Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Rensselaer Havens, 25 June 1803

From Rensselaer Havens

New York 25th June 1803


Under date of the 28th April last I receivd a Letter from my friend Mr. Frederick Jenkins at Havre de Grace, stating that the commercial Agency for the United States at that place was then exercised by deputation and that he was desirous of obtaining the appointment—to promote his wishes I have procured such Letters of recommendation as I am pursuaded will receive attention—and if the office be yet vacant and fairly open for a new appointment I flatter myself the Letter which I now have the honor to inclose from his Excellency Governor Clinton, together with those which have already been forwarded to the Hone James Maddison Secretary of State on this Subject will be Sufficient to procure Mr. Jenkins the appointment without personal application—

with the greatest respect I have the honor to be Your Excellenies obedient Svt.

Rensselaer Havens

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); endorsed by TJ as received 29 June and “Jenkins Frederick to be Coml Agt Havre” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: George Clinton to TJ, 21 June, recorded in SJL as received 29 June with notation “Fred. Jenkins to be Coml. Agt. Havre” but not found.

Born on Shelter Island, New York, Rensselaer Havens (1773–1854) moved to New York City in the 1790s and opened a dry goods business. His older brother, Jonathan N. Havens, was a Republican congressman. Havens eventually became a partner with frederick jenkins in a shipping business, and during the War of 1812, the two outfitted several private brigs, including the General Armstrong, which was destroyed by the British in the neutral port of Fayal despite a spirited and celebrated defense. After the war, Havens, a lay leader in the Presbyterian Church, devoted much of his energy to philanthropic activities but also helped run an insurance company (New York Evangelist, 29 June 1854; Joseph A. Scoville, The Old Merchants of New York City, 1st ser. [New York, 1864], 359–61; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Claims, 1:503–4; Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends , S.V., “Havens, Jonathan Nicoll”).

havre de grace: that is, Le Havre, France.

For letters on Jenkins’s behalf sent to the secretary of state, see David Gelston to James Madison, 15 June (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR; endorsed by TJ: “Jenkins Frederic to be consul at Havre”) and DeWitt Clinton to Madison, 17 June (RC in same; endorsed by TJ).

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